The stability of food supply chains is crucial to the food security of people around the world. Since the beginning of 2020, this stability has been undergoing one of the most vigorous pressure tests ever due to the COVID-19 outbreak. From a mere health issue, the pandemic has turned into an economic threat to food security globally in the forms of lockdowns, economic decline, food trade restrictions, and rising food inflation. It is safe to assume that the novel health crisis has badly struck the least developed and developing economies, where people are particularly vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. However, due to the recency of the COVID-19 problem, the impacts of macroeconomic fluctuations on food insecurity have remained scantily explored. In this study, the authors attempted to bridge this gap by revealing interactions between the food security status of people and the dynamics of COVID-19 cases, food trade, food inflation, and currency volatilities. The study was performed in the cases of 45 developing economies distributed to three groups by the level of income. The consecutive application of the autoregressive distributed lag method, Yamamoto's causality test, and variance decomposition analysis allowed the authors to find the food insecurity effects of COVID-19 to be more perceptible in upper-middle-income economies than in the least developed countries. In the latter, food security risks attributed to the emergence of the health crisis were mainly related to economic access to adequate food supply (food inflation), whereas in higher-income developing economies, availability-sided food security risks (food trade restrictions and currency depreciation) were more prevalent. The approach presented in this paper contributes to the establishment of a methodology framework that may equip decision-makers with up-to-date estimations of health crisis effects on economic parameters of food availability and access to staples in food-insecure communities.
Keywords: COVID-19; food inflation; food security; food self-sufficiency; food trade.